I have written up two different styles of walkthrough. This page is more of a minimalist approach: you'll be told what achievements I would target during the level, and how difficult you can expect the point target to be. I'll mention the three seals for each level and tell you anything important about them that isn't obvious from the description.
That's it. As long as you get the seals and scroll and point totals for each level on your own as you go, you don't really need anything else. This is the approach I would prefer when playing. Spoilers are kept to a minimum, although I can't promise there aren't mild ones - for instance, some of the seals make reference to your ultimate goal in each level.
Alternatively, you might prefer a more complete guide. Although it isn't a turn-by-turn guide to finishing the levels, on the next page you'll find a much more detailed walkthrough. Rather than just telling you how tough the point total will be, you'll be told a little more detail about where your points are likely to come from. More importantly, I'll actually list the locations of all three scrolls, how to get all three seals, and what achievement opportunties you'll have in the level - all listed in order of their appearance. So if you want to walk through the game being told what to look for next at each possible point, use that guide instead.
Either way, enjoy yourself and see you on the other side.
Level 1: Ink and Dreams
Points required for 3 stars: 23,000. This is trivial and does not even require that you stay undetected. If you do remain undetected, and get all three scrolls and seals, you are nearly guaranteed to get 3 stars. Getting through without killing anybody is not possible, as far as I know, without advanced equipment - so feel free to kill people creatively and start stashing bodies to rack up points. It's not really necessary in this level, though.
"Dosan's Story" note: if you started the game by playing "Dosan's Story," or for whatever reason if you've already played it when you're reading this, you should target two achievements in this level aside from those mentioned here: Couldn't Do That Before and What Could Have Been. Refer to the the section on Dosan's Story for more information (between levels 8 and 9).
There are four achievements I would specifically target in this level:
really can't avoid this one. You'll be practically forced to kill the first guard you see after getting your swords, and that will get you the achievement.
you see two guards in the same area but not right next to each other, you can kill one and throw him so he lands in eyeshot of the other. There are a couple of good places for this - see the more detailed walkthrough for a good spot if you want.
can't avoid this, it's the progression achievement you'll receive at the end of the level.
Complete a level without getting detected.
you manage to make it through undetected, you'll also get this. If you finish the level with all three scrolls, all three seals, and the three stars, I wouldn't go back just to get this. Your goal in all levels will be to make it through undetected, so you'll almost have to get this at some point.
The three seals for this level involve ringing the four large gongs, saving the four ninja, and then saving Azai without being discovered. The last of those only requires that you are undiscovered from when you get to the room where Azai is until you save him, not throughout the entire level.
Level 2: Breaching the Perimeter
Points required for 3 stars: 21,000. If possible, this is even more trivial than the first level. If you stay undetected, I don't think it's possible to get through the level without getting this, not with the tools you have at your disposal right now.
There are two ways to play this level. It is the first level in which it's possible to get through without killing anyone on your first playthrough. Clearly your goal would be to refrain from killing anyone and do so without raising an alarm. This would net you two achievements:
Complete a level without killing any guards and without being detected.
1 guide Mercy
Complete a level without killing any guards.
If, alternatively, you choose to kill your way through the level, you'll probably get this one as you go:
Either way, you'll be trying for a seal that involves you breaking 20 lights. Combined with your efforts last level, that will probably unlock this one:
Distract 25 guards using environmental objects.
If you don't unlock those last two just yet, don't worry. They are unavoidable as you play through the game, you'll get them eventually.
The three seals for this level are breaking 20 lights (there are far more than 20 lights available), getting to the transformer in under a minute (this starts when "Destroy the Transformer" becomes your goal, it's just one little area), and getting to the top of the tower without detection.
If it isn't clear yet, the seals that require doing something undetected or within a certain time frame will notify you when they begin: a message will pop up in the top left saying "Optional Seal Available: Get to the top of the tower without detection" or whatever. That's your cue.
Level 3: The Trail of Shadow
Points required for 3 stars: 34,000. This is not difficult, but it's still the first level you can play through undetected and actually not hit 3 stars. It's still not terribly likely, but it could happen. Keep in mind as you play through that it's not really feasible to get Ghost or Mercy on this level and only have to play the level once. It's not that you can't get through without killing people, it's that one of the seals involves killing 5 people spread out over half the level, so at the minimum you'd have to play that much of it and restart. Your best bet for points is to kill everything that moves and hide bodies whenever there's an obvious place to do so. Distracting guards is worth points, too. Key is staying undetected.
There is one achievement you can grind out here if you choose to. You'll probably get the Stealth Assassin or Trickster achievements if you didn't get them already. Otherwise, just make sure you get all the seals, scrolls, and stars. You'll also probably get one achievement through natural play in either this level or the next:
Which is just for staying undetected 10 times in a single level. Don't even bother really making an effort to get this, and certainly don't go back and replay the level for it. You will almost have to get this at some point in later levels, and even if you didn't, there's an unlock late in the game that would make it trivial if you didn't already have it.
The one achievement you could grind out is for distracting guards with your equipment (as opposed to using environmental objects such as lights):
I wouldn't necessarily recommend checkpoint restarts for grinding out achievements in this game, but in this case, it's not a horrible idea. The thing is, after this level I rarely was carrying items capable of easily distracting guards. Here, you'll still have the noisemakers, and there are a couple of spots with multiple guards right after a checkpoint. You could very easily distract as many as you can with a couple of thrown noisemakers, then reset your checkpoint. It's your call. It's probably more efficient to wait and see if you get it through natural play - easy enough to come back or wait until your New Game + playthrough to get it.
The seals in this level are for killing 6 courier guards, getting through the area just before the communications tower without detection, and for throwing guard's bodies in 5 different dumpsters (while dragging a body, if you're in front of a dumpster, pushing B should toss the body in). It's this last seal that makes a pure stealth playthrough impossible in a single playthrough.
Level 4: A Change in Course
Points required for 3 stars: 21,500. Not difficult, just stay undetected and hide bodies whenever you see an opportunity. If you're going for a single playthrough, once again you're presented with a problem playing for no kills, since there are seals requiring you kill guards. However, unlike the previous level, the seals in question are obtainable in one act (e.g., "Terrify a guard by killing another with a spike mine"). So you could, if you were really committed to a pure stealth approach, get the seal and then reset the checkpoint to keep your no-kill record for the end bonus.
This is your chance to unlock Well, I Think It's Interesting. There will be a little speech bubble available at the very beginning of the level. Hit it with a dart for the achievement. If it's not there, make sure you've enabled commentary in the settings menu and restart the level:
This is also probably your first opportunity to unlock the achievement for five different types of stealth kills:
Perform five different types of stealth kills in one level.
You should be unlocking the stealth kill techniques in the upgrades menu now that you have that chance. By now, you have access to Emperor's Abyss, Twilight Gate, Hangman's Hymn, and Bat's Prey, as well as some other techniques that are frankly far less useful. The only other I can recommend at this point is Superior Lockpicks, which is extremely handy.
Assuming you haven't already run through "Dosan's Story," this is your first opportunity for one other achievement: throwing three items at once. As soon as you receive the spike mines early in the level, just use the left trigger to pause, then target something with a dart, switch to your distraction item by pushing left on the d-pad (still holding the left trigger), target an area with Y, switch to your attack item, target it with Y, then let go of the left trigger to get another achievement out of the way:
The seals here are for terrifying a guard by killing another with a spike mine (you'll receive these early in the level, and you just need to make sure a guard walks over one while visible by another guard); killing two guards with one chandelier, and opening all the gas vents (you must open three of the six to finish the level, but the last three are useful only to obtain this seal).
Level 5: The Fall of Hessian Tower
Points required for 3 stars: 19,000. Pretty trivial. Just hide bodies as you go and you should have no problem. Alternatively, try going through without killing anyone (this will require resetting your checkpoint after you earn the seal for terrifying one guard by hanging another's body from a grappling point), which will make it impossible to get through without 3 stars.
There is really only one achievement you're likely to get here, unless you're still working on some that have been previously mentioned, and it's strictly a progression achievement:
You can't avoid this if you finish the level.
One of the seals in this level you should make note of right away: no breaking lights in the entire level. You actually can break lights in the final room, but that's it. The second is finishing the level without setting off an alarm. You should be avoiding alarms anyway, but technically this doesn't start until most of the way through the level, so you could get it as long as you don't set off alarms in the second half. Finally, there's a seal for suspending a guard from a grappling hook and using his body to terrify another guard. This is easier if you obtain the Grim Harbinger technique at your next upgrade opportunity.
Level 6: An Ancestral Home
You'll need an easily obtained 29,000 points for this level. Just hide a few bodies as you go through, you won't have any problems. This is another level in which you can't run through the level just once and not kill anybody; one of the seals prevents that.
There are a few achievements that are easily obtainable here. First, now that you have Brief Shadow, you can kill from inside a dumpster for one achievement:
And there are a couple of very easy places to scare a guard into shooting another guard. You may have gotten this achievment already in an earlier level, but if not keep you eye open for three guards together so you can kill one and scare the others into shooting at one another. If you have any trouble with this at all, don't bother. In Level 8, one of the seals will force you to get this achievement if you haven't by then:
Finally, one of the seal requirements is identical to the requirements for one of the achievement. You might have gotten this already as well, but it's basically required here:
Use a dead body to lure another guard and then stealth kill him.
The seals in this level are pretty straightforward. One for getting through a particular section without being detected (toward the beginning), one for killing everyone in another section (at the end, and this is what keeps you from being able to do the level only once and not kill anybody), and finally one for using a body to lure another guard into a stealth kill (your snare achievement).
Level 7: Above a Bottomless Chasm
The 15,000 points you need to three-star this level is less than the minimum score if you get all three scrolls and stay undetected. Even setting off an alarm or two, you'd be hard-pressed to screw this one up. You won't be able to refrain from killing people if you get all the seals.
Unfortunately, there are no achievements you're likely to unlock unless you're still working on one of the earlier ones.
The three seals are for killing three gas-mask guards that are standing in gas, for hiding three bodies in the final room, and for riding a particular crate to the top of a particular shaft without jumping off. You may have heard you can ignore the crate and make your way to the top without it; you can, but as of the latest title update this will no longer award you the seal. You'll have to actually ride it now - it's not remotely difficult enough to justify clearing your cache and playing offline.
Level 8: The Inner Keep
You need 29,000 points for three stars here. It's a little more of a stretch than some earlier levels, but there are so many places to pile up points that it's still pretty easy. Lots of special kills - drops from above, kills from vents under guards, etc. And hide bodies whenever possible. Unlike earlier levels, you do need to actually try for points... just not very hard.
There is one achievement you'll get here unless you really try to miss it: the one for stunning, then killing, an elite guard:
The three seals are for sabotaging the chopper without detection (as always, you should be going for being undetected anyway), terrorizing a guard into shooting another guard (giving you The Worst Allies
achievement if you don't have it already), and killing 3 elites.
Side Mission: Dosan's Story
At this point, you may want to go run through the side mission Dosan's Story if you haven't already. Unlike the main story levels, there are no achievement-related reasons to get points, seals, or scrolls. You can access the level from the level select screen in the main menu (press RT to see it).
Your first achievement in this level will require that commentary be turned on in your settings. Right after the first enemy, you'll see a speech bubble hanging in the air. Hit it with a dart:
You'll note pretty quickly that your "kills" in this level are actually nonlethal knockouts. One result of this change is that the people you take out can now be revived. At some point in this level - there are many opportunities - leave an unconscious guard where he will be found by another guard. Once he's been revived, go take him out again (and, presumably, his friend) to get another achievement:
that point, play through the mission basically however you want in order to get the main progression achievement from the level:
Once you've completed this level, you will be awarded the "Path of Wisdom" costume, and you will have picked up the Dusk Moths and Toxic Fungus along the way. You should equip the Path of Wisdom for either of the next two levels to get its associated achievement (see next level).
Level 9: A Blade at His Neck
19,000 points for three stars here. Not even worth worrying about. Pile up a few extra points and stay undetected, you'll get it.
Dosan's Story note: you need to have played the side mission to get three of the four achievements listed here. Assuming you have the equipment from that mission, load out with the toxic fungus, the dusk moths, and the Path of Wisdom costume. If not, Karajan's Fate is the only achievement you'll get this time through.
Your first goal in the level is to get a key from a particular guard. If you come at him from above, just hit him with a toxic fungus and wait for the other two guards to turn around and investigate (if you are in the middle of your first playthrough here, you'll want to pickpocket the key first for that seal, or restart the checkpoint after the achievement unlocks). They'll both be killed as well, giving you one more achievement:
Dispatch two enemies at once using a body infected with Toxic Fungus.
Then continue through the level. The next enemy you see will be an elite guard with a dog. Hit him with the moths to stun him, then take him out (you can stun the dog as well to make this easier, or take the dog out with the fungus). That gives you:
When you finish the level, you'll receive a progression achievement you can't avoid:
If you equipped Path of Wisdom to finish the level, you will also get:
What Could Have Been
Complete one of the original Mark of the Ninja levels using the Path of Wisdom.
The three seals are for killing him without detection (only applies during last room, as soon as you actually see him), pickpocketing both keys (you can't kill the key carriers... at least, not until after you've taken the keys off them), and getting smelled by all the dogs. For the dogs, it's usually easy enough to run inside their smell radius - the purple arc around them - and run off or kill them outright once they've gotten a whiff. You will have to wake one of them up first. It's worth keeping in mind that for some reason they can't smell directly under them when unalerted, so you can always be clinging to a ceiling under them, pop up to get smelled, then pop back down and hide.
Level 10: A Shattered Stronghold
Finally, a challenge. This level is the first moderately difficult one in the game, and the 31,000 points needed for three stars is the first mark that you might actually have trouble with. There aren't as many easy extra-point kills, and it's difficult to find places to hide many of the bodies. Alternatively, you could go the no-kill route and probably get it with the 5k bonus, but this is a fairly long level and it's a tough one to do without kills. However, if you've obtained the Path of Wisdom costume, you can use it to boost your score; it makes the 5k bonus fairly simple. Just be careful not to drop unconscious bodies into spike pits, etc. You can knock out enemies and preserve your 5k bonus, and then hide their bodies for more points. Fair warning: you will have to do the level without farsight, which can be a pain.
However, there are a lot of upgrade points. These refill your consumables, and your ninja tools can give great bonus points. Use them to get extra points for your kills, and don't be afraid to backtrack a bit to refill. Spamming the ravenous insects around these checkpoints will give you a huge advantage, points-wise.
A lot of these guards aren't affected by gas, but are carrying night-vision goggles, so I recommend the flashbangs rather than upgraded smoke bombs for disabling them. Terror darts and ravenous insects both work equally well for stacking up some points. (Both also are great ways to lose that no-kill bonus, though. Be warned.)
You probably won't get any achievements here, unless you go for What Could Have Been (see previous level). The second half of the level has three separate destinations; each destination is associated with its own seal. For one, you'll need to get the needles without being detected, get the "sumi" (tattoo ink) without taking damage, and some keys without using any of your ninja items (this includes darts!). As usual, all of the seals' restrictions only applies in a small area - here case, from when you first see the objective (the sumi, the needles, the key carrier) to when you get it.
Level 11: Set to Flight
This is almost certainly the most difficult level in the game to get three stars in. The point total is only 17,000, but you'll have some issues. Some tips:
- Serenity will take you safely through things like blades and lasers.
- Using Serenity through an enemy gets you the 200-point "undetected" bonus.
- If your exit point from Serenity is a hiding spot, you'll hide automatically at the end of your jump.
- Assuming you're not going for a no-kill bonus, Stalkers are free points. Like dogs, they do not give you end-of-level bonuses for leaving them alive. Kill them if at all possible.
If you're going for all the seals, you cannot do a pure stealth run (one of the seals requires kills and spans two checkpoints, so you can't reset the checkpoint). That means you'll have to kill as many things as possible in order to get the point total. Keep an eye out for traps to drop on people, since you don't have your weapons or items. Keep in mind you do have your darts and use them to lure people into traps. It is tight, but you can still beat the goal by a few thousand points if you keep it in mind throughout the level.
The seals here are for getting through the first area without being spotted by stalkers, then killing 5 enemies with traps and getting through to the underground passage without taking damage. Those last two can be difficult.
When you finish the level, you'll pop a progression achievement:
Escape from the Stronghold.
Level 12: The Return
This 27,000 point total is not difficult, compared to the previous level, although it's probably harder than any of the others. Still, if you just keep killing everything that moves and hiding the bodies whenever possible, you'll be okay. Stay undetected, of course. Unfortunately upgrade points (and thus ninja tool refills) are not as common as some other levels. Also, take note when you hide a body - you should get a point bonus. If you don't, grab the body again and move it a bit. This usually gets it to register. At the end of this level, if you've managed to get three stars, the achievement will unlock before the game even shows your point total:
This assumes, of course, you've been getting all your stars in every level as you go. Also in this level, you'll get the achievement for getting all of the challenge rooms:
And for all the scrolls:
Find all three scrolls in every level.
The seals in this level are for staying undetected until you get your equipment, for killing 3 "hallucinations" in 15 seconds, and for stealth killing from a hiding spot right after you use Serenity to get there. Again, if you've been keeping up with all your seals, you'll finally get that achievement:
Earn all three seals in every level.
You'll also have a chance to get the upgraded cardboard box, finally, which will allow you to get its associated achievement (you must purchase the cardboard box and then the upgraded cardboard box for this):
But wait, there's more...
Epilogue: A Moonlit Garden
Your final progression achievement awaits you here:
Determine your fate.
Congratulations! Head to the Cleanup page for a couple of achievements (you may have unlocked these already through normal gameplay), and for some quick tips on your New Game + playthrough.
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